5/25/2016

1950s Kay Mahogany Archtop Guitar



This customer's instrument was a "quick fix" project. It had a sort of shoddy (not enough angle) neck reset done in the past and a warp in the neck (about 1/32") meant that playability would never be perfect, but we did get it going a bit better. It's a laminate-bodied guitar so, considering the other issues, "good enough" was definitely "good enough." A lot of Kays from this period, despite their giant necks, tend to get a bit of warp in the neck over time due to their long scale (25 7/8" -- which = more tension per string gauge) and lack of reinforcement.

My work was to re-button the tuners, recut the bridge a bit (it's a Harmony bridge), and hack-jobly fix the tailpiece which tore apart upon tuning it back up during setup! Playability, as expected, turned-out "good enough," though the tone was actually surprisingly-full on the lower-mids for one of these lam-body Kays (which tend more towards bright/dry).



Bone nut, 1 11/16" nut, and big old rounded-C neck profile. The Kay emblem would've fit nicely between the two tack-holes for its plastic logo at the top of the headstock.


The board is radiused rosewood and has bigger brass frets. The dots are plastic




The bridge got compensation for the B-string, a bit of recut to its base to let action be adjusted down a bit more, and... was put back in the right place. Note how far the compensation was off judging by the old "bridge goes here" pencil marks!


I usually have any number of random old tailpieces in my parts-bin, but not this day! When the tail snapped I scrounged around and pulled this Gibson-style electric "stop tail" out, drilled it, and bent the old tailpiece "wire" around it to get it mounted. It works like a charm and looks silly-wonderful to boot.




The old Kluson tuners seem to be working just-fine.



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